top of page

The Sunbonnet

The Sunbonnet

Review by Christopher Dow



A lot of hats will protect you from the sun, but few are as iconic as the American sunbonnet.


Pervasive and fashionable throughout westward expansion in the United States, the sunbonnet endures as work dress in some regions and elsewhere on quilts, dolls, and children’s clothing. Costume historian Rebecca Jumper Matheson wondered why this particular working-dress accessory persisted long after it passed out of nineteenth-century fashion, and her research culminated in The Sunbonnet: An American Icon in Texas (Texas Tech University Press, 2009). In it, she surveys the history of the sunbonnet, details materials and methods of construction, and delves into what the sunbonnet reveals about American fashion, culture, and ideas.


Enlivened by oral histories, numerous archival photos, and sunbonnet patterns, The Sunbonnet is a valuable resource for scholars as well as collectors, re-enactors, and anyone else drawn to this emblematic American headwear.



Reprinted from Rice Magazine, No. 7, 2010.

bottom of page